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Working with Millennials – Understanding, Motivating and Unlocking Performance

When you hear “Millennial”, who or what do you picture? Like it or not, we all have pre-conceived notions of what interacting and working with millennials is like. Older generations might perceive them to be entitled, soft, unfocussed, or poorly equipped to deal with the challenges of a fast-paced professional environment. Millennials themselves would likely see it differently – that they’re more compassionate, accepting, and when it comes to their career, they need more than just a decent salary package.

For business owners, managers, and executives, the key to unlocking performance from millennials requires a better understanding of how they operate, what motivates them, and what often results in the misconceptions about their value in the workplace.

Understanding Millennials & What They Need

In order to get the best out of millennials, in any environment, the key is understanding. What motivates them? How do we engage them? What unique skills can they bring? What important skills might they lack? Such questions should form the basis of understanding millennials and how they operate within your business.

Motivating millennials requires a different approach to motivating older generations. In years gone by, you might be able to make the case that an employee needs only competitive pay, job security and a Christmas bonus. The younger generation has been raised on instant gratification (primarily due to the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones, internet, social media etc.) and a desire to engage with their employer’s culture and brand. Engaging them means more than just putting a mission statement and company values in front of them and leaving it at that. Typically, they want to know that you as a business owner, team leader, executive, or otherwise, will lead from the front, live the values, and maintain a keen interest in the human side of your business and its employees. Being engaged and invested in their work is now about much more than their fortnightly pay.

Identifying & Overcoming Shortcomings

For all of the unique and valuable contributions that millennials bring to your business, there are a few common shortcomings that can arise. These not only feed into misconceptions about their work ethic and level of focus, but in reality, they can contribute to increased staff turnover – not a great look for any business.

Something that working millennials often struggle with is confrontation and negotiation. When problems arise and tricky conversations need to be had, many will disengage, or leave the job entirely. As a generational trait, it can be difficult to know what to do – but strong leadership can help you overcome this. In advance of those tough conversations, ensure that there is alignment between your expectations as an employer, and those of your employee. Engage directly in conversation with them, communicating openly about what is expected of them when things aren’t quite going to plan. This might be to do with their own performance, or broader business issues that aren’t necessarily within their control, but in any case, it’s important to take a front-foot approach.

A sense of entitlement is another trait often associated with millennials. While this can be an unfair generalisation, owners and executives can be faced with millennials that expect a level of remuneration or benefits based solely on their role. As an example, a 23-year-old team member who has been employed in a role for 1 year may assume that their pay should match their 40-year-old colleague working the same role. What they often don’t take into account is the fact that their colleague has been in the business for 10 years, has a much deeper understanding of the business and its needs, has proven their resilience and skills in the tough times, and brings a greater level of experience and insight. As a manager, it is critical to ensure that the younger team member has realistic expectations around the range of factors that impact their role and remuneration, and that those expectations align with that of the business. Consider defining a clear path to seniority, the increased responsibility that comes with it, and the pay that will follow.

Unleashing High-Performers

The descriptors of a “typical” millennial in the workplace that we’ve outlined above certainly don’t apply to all. You might be fortunate enough to employ members of that generation who are actively looking to maximise their impact and take an active role in their long-term development. High-performing millennials in your business know their potential. They are receptive to change, they crave strong leadership and mentoring, and want to be given opportunities to show what they can contribute. Identifying these employees and nurturing their potential is the key to building a competent next generation of leadership.

What Now?

Understanding and unlocking the potential of millennials in your workplace can be complex. The team at Mind You Performance (MYP) work closely with executives and business leaders to help with just that; as well as coaching and mentoring those employees directly. If you’re ready to take the next step in developing the next generation, read on to find out more about MYP and how they can impact your business.

Mind You Performance

Mind You Performance (MYP) represents the next generation of health and wellbeing. MYP has reimagined the traditional model of simply guiding professionals in tackling their mental health issues and developed a holistic approach that incorporates complete physical health, mental wellbeing, and exceptional mental performance.

Going beyond dealing with mental health “issues”, MYP emphasises a proactive, three-dimensional scope to assist professionals to embrace the broader picture of health and wellbeing for the benefit of not only their career and its development, but their life as a whole. Directed by partners Steve Liggett and Shay Lam, who leverage their extensive experience across a range of industries, MYP are passionate about mentoring high-performing, motivated professionals at all stages in their career and guiding them along their unique journey.

If you’re working with millennials and would like to know more about how MYP can assist, you can find them on LinkedIn here, or feel free to reach out to Steve & Shay directly:

Steve Liggett: 0438 716 854 | LinkedIn |

Shay Lam: 0408 946 862 | LinkedIn |

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